Bianca Andreescu made a victorious return to action in her first match since the Miami Open, thwarting Andrea Lázaro Garcia, 6-1, 6-2 at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

"I feel really, really good," she said in her on-court interview. "It was solid tennis from me today. I had really good preparation coming into the tournament, so I feel super happy."

To the delight of the crowd, she repeated the latter in French—for extra emphasis.

The top seed showed few signs of rust in what was her first clay-court match in nearly two years, dismissing the Spanish qualifier in 61 minutes on Patrice Dominguez court.

Andreescu was forced out of the Mutua Madrid Open and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, the latest in a string of bad luck that has kept her off the court for much of the last 18 months.


Eager for matches before the second major tournament of 2021, the 20-year-old opted to enter Strasbourg and play just the second clay-court tournament on the tour level in her career—and her first since 2019 Roland Garros.

"The first couple of practices were a bit shaky," she continued in her post-match press conference, "because of the bad bounces and all of that. I'm not a fan of them at all, and there's also the long rallies. But I improved my stamina and endurance, so the rallies are fine now, and the bad bounces are just something everyone has to deal with. It only took a couple of practices before I was feeling really good with my game."

Despite that glaring lack of experience, the Canadian has nonetheless looked capable of translating her hard-court success onto clay, and got off to a quick start against Lazaro Garcia, winning the first four games of the match.

"Today was really good. I would definitely put today's match in my Top 5 cleanest matches from top to finish. I went out there, and yes, the player I played was lower ranked, but I tried not to focus on that. Instead, I wanted to give 100% and try my best. That's what I did and how I want to play every match. I wouldn't improve anything, really. I felt good!"

Andreescu last played at the Miami Open, where she reached the final (Getty Images).

Andreescu last played at the Miami Open, where she reached the final (Getty Images).


At 26, the Spaniard was making a long-awaited WTA main-draw debut after two solid wins in qualifying but was decidedly over-awed from the start, finally getting on the board with a hold. Andreescu continued to dominate despite the interruption, landing a delicate drop-shot on set point to take the opening set in under 30 minutes.

As the pair traded service holds to start the second set, the 2019 US Open champion found her opportunity in the sixth game, where she raced ahead 0-40 and broke Lázaro Garcia with some powerful baseline blasts.

"She had a couple of matches coming into the match today, but I felt really good preparing for this tournament. It may have looked easy but it wasn't; she's a really great player."

Earning match points two games later, Andreescu made no mistake on her third opportunity, out-rallying the qualifier one last time to edge over the finish line in just over an hour.

Andreescu will face another qualifier in the second round, as Maryna Zanevska took out Yuliya Hatouka for a chance to play the top seed for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Sorana Cirstea won her first title since 2008 this spring in Istanbul (Getty Images).

Sorana Cirstea won her first title since 2008 this spring in Istanbul (Getty Images).


Around the grounds...

Venus Williams' Strasbourg gambit proved less successful than Andreescu's, as the seven-time Grand Slam champion extended into a five-match losing streak after bowing out to Sorana Cirstea, 6-1, 2-6, 6-1. Williams played in Parma alongside sister Serena last week but fell to nemesis Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in three sets, and hasn't won a match since the Australian Open, where she incurred a an injury against Sara Errani.

The 2002 French Open finalist will head to Paris looking to win a round there for the first time since 2017, when she reached the second week for a tenth time in her prolific career.

Caroline Garcia kicked off action on Patrice Dominguez court on Monday, and the 2019 finalist eased past Zarina Diyas, 7-5, 6-2. Garcia parted ways with her father as coach to start the clay-court swing, and has improved with each tournament, reaching the quarterfinals of the Emilia-Romagna Open last week in Parma. The former world No. 4 will next face No. 5 seed Barbora Krejcikova for a second straight last-eight appearance ahead of Roland Garros.

Yulia Putintseva won the most dramatic match of the day, twice breaking Rebecca Peterson as the Swede served for the match to emerge victorious, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2). The No. 4 seed will play Jil Teichmann next.